A journalist working for the Iranian news channel Press TV has been arrested and detained without explanation in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Marzieh Hashemi, a U.S. and an Iranian citizen, was detained upon arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, on Sunday, her family and friends said.
Press TV says she was transferred by the FBI to a detention facility in Washington, DC. US officials have so far refused to provide any reasons for her apprehension either to her or her family.
The Associated Press (AP) said a call to the FBI rang unanswered early on Wednesday morning. The bureau did not immediately respond to a written request for comment, it added.
Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin, had arrived in the US to visit her ill brother and other family members.
Her relatives were unable to contact her, and she was allowed to contact her daughter only two days after her arrest.
Hashemi, who has been living in Iran for decades and is a Muslim convert, has told her daughter that she was handcuffed and shackled and was being treated like a criminal.
The journalist also said that she had her hijab forcibly removed, and was photographed without her headscarf upon arrival at the prison.
Family said that Hashemi has only been allowed to wear a T-shirt, and is currently using another one to cover her head.
Furthermore, she has been offered only pork as meal – which is forbidden under Islamic law – and even denied bread and any other halal food after refusing to consume the meat.
Hashemi told her daughter that the only food she has had over the past two days has been a packet of crackers.
The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations for decades and have clashed several times politically, economically and even militarily.
Hashemi’s arrest comes shortly after Iran admitted holding U.S. navy veteran Michale White.
Press TV statement
Press TV has released a statement with regard to the detention and imprisonment of its anchorwoman Marzieh Hashemi in the United States. The statement is as follows:
PressTV would like to hereby express its strong protest at the recent apprehension and violent treatment of Ms. Marzieh Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin in the United States, who is currently serving as an anchor for the English-language television news network.
A female African-American international journalist, a mother and a grandmother, Ms. Hashemi has traveled to the United States to visit her family members, including her brother, who is suffering from cancer. She was, however, arrested at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St. Louise, Missouri on January 13, 2019 by US police, and transferred by FBI agents to a detention center in Washington, DC.
Ms. Hashemi has told her family in a phone conversation last night that she has been subjected to violent and abusive treatment from the very onset as described below:
– Ms. Hashemi is yet to be arraigned or given a reason for her detention and imprisonment. She, herself, is at a loss to know why she should ever face apprehension.
– Her family members were kept completely in the dark about her situation for two straight days following the arrest.
– Immediately after arrest, she was forced to remove her hijab (the head covering for Muslim women) even though the authorities knew about her being a Muslim. They allowed her only a T-shirt to wear, with her forearms being exposed against Islamic law. She was even photographed in that state.
– The authorities running the detention facility have paid no heed to her religious preferences, despite her repeated protests.
– She has been forced to use another T-shirt to cover her head so as to remain observant of Islamic values.
– She has been denied halal food (food permissible under Islamic law), being offered only pork as meal and not even bread, which she has requested to avoid the meat. Ms. Hashemi has had nothing to eat other than a packet of crackers since her apprehension. The resulting malnutrition, compounded by cold weather conditions, has made her weak and infirm.
– Her current feeble health condition necessitates urgent medical attention.
– The United States government is accountable for any potential harm or hazard that would affect Ms. Hashemi’s mental or physical condition.
Accordingly, as part of the media community, we expect that all international media outlets set about relaying this affair without delay.
We, further, call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Hashemi, and for the US government to apologize to both the journalist and the international media community for her treatment.